Swag for school spirit

Silkea Islam/HIGHLANDER
Silkea Islam/HIGHLANDER

If you passed by the HUB these past two weeks, you may have noticed the lines of students. Were they waiting around for movie tickets? No. Extra Heat tickets? No.

Awaiting those students at the end of the line were free UCR sweaters — but why the free swag?

ASUCR President Nafi Karim has demonstrated a great attention to his fellow UCR classmates’ concerns, such as taking a stand against the raised UC tuition. In his R’Gear press release, he stated: “I made a campaign promise to the student body to increase campus pride, and a convocation promise to the Class of 2018 in return for your promise to do good, make a positive difference, and to be a proud Highlander.” Karim has delivered on his promise to enable the freshmen class of 2018 to each receive a school sweater, which is necessary to help unify the school.

As a senior, the R’Gear initiative at first bothered me, because it focused primarily on first-years instead of the school as a whole. However, after reflecting, I realized that focusing this initiative on freshmen is necessary, because many of them may still feel doubt toward UCR.

Karim noted that there is a “lack of campus pride among many students at the time here on campus” — especially among the first-year class. From my own experiences, I understand his concern, since I once dreaded attending UCR, even as I arranged my belongings in my dorm room. This has changed. I have made many memories and met many friends at UCR. It’ll always be a place that I’ll fondly remember and be thankful for, but, as a new freshmen on campus, sometimes it’s hard to believe UCR has that sort of potential, especially due to the negative reputation.

With derogatory names, like “UCRejects,” it’s hard not to initially doubt this university’s standards. So, what better way to combat these negative symbols of UCR than with positive symbols of UCR?

Sporting UCR’s colors and mascot, the sweatshirts achieve the positivity the school needs. While these displays of school spirit not only via sweaters, but also through social media, may seem artificial, it does reflect many students’ sentiments. UCR doesn’t have a constant culture of displaying campus pride and, though it has been increasing, our university doesn’t have many high profile programs typical to other UCs, such as a football team, which are usually opportunities for students to show school pride.

While the clothes are symbols to display school spirit, regardless of their requirements and prices, ASUCR should consider holding an event to coincide with the next R’Gear giveaway to avoid sticking UCR as that school that encourages school pride merely with items.

Not only will UCR students witness an increase in the display of school pride, potential students will too when they tour campus. A change in perception by potential students is vital, because these students become the later generations excited about UCR instead of dreading it.

From my own experience, I began to dread going to UCR because I saw virtually nobody sporting any pride on campus; instead, I saw people sporting other universities’ sweaters, which sent the message to me that UCR students didn’t want to be here — they wanted to be somewhere else.

That’s an impression that UCR must change, and these sweaters are a first step to it.

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